With Rosanne Kennedy

Seminar 'Locating Multidirectional Memory: The Productive Frictions of Holocaust Remembrance from Australia to Shanghai'

Rosanne Kennedy. Foto: ANU/Stuart Hay
Rosanne Kennedy. Photo: ANU/Stuart Hay

On 19 November Utrecht Forum for Memory Studies organizes a seminar on the productive frictions of holocaust remembrance from Australia to Shanghai with Rosanne Kennedy (Australian National University). 

In Australia, as elsewhere, the issue of public remembrance – of what events should be commemorated and how - has been contentious. This seminar, based on a forthcoming article by Sulamith Graefenstein and Rosanne Kennedy, explores the transnational, national and local dynamics shaping public remembrance in Australia through two case studies: Holocaust remembrance and colonial violence.

national and local levels 

Firstly, Graefenstein and Kennedy identify tensions between and within practices of Holocaust remembrance at the national and local levels. While Australia is petitioning to join the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), Holocaust remembrance in Australia has traditionally been fostered by survivor communities. Recently, in a move spearheaded by descendants of survivors, the Sydney Jewish Museum (SJM) has expanded multidirectionally, using Holocaust remembrance as a platform to highlight past and continuing human rights violations in Australia, including against Indigenous people.

Judy Watson

To explore more fully the personal and affective work of remembering violations against Indigenous people, a second case will be discussed: recent artworks by Judy Watson. In installations such as “Mapping Frontier Violence” and “Experimental Beds” she not only promotes remembrance of colonial violence and its legacies in Australia; she also creates a multidirectional dynamic, linking her intimate family history with that of Thomas Jefferson’s slave, Sally Hemings. Watson’s work is significant because it introduces intimate and racialized sexual appropriation as a basis for transnational, multidirectional colonial memory, thus providing an alternative to the dominant Holocaust paradigm.

Holocaust Memorial in Stirling Gardens in the capital of Western Australia ©
Holocaust Memorial in Stirling Gardens in the capital of Western Australia ©

'locations' of memory 

In the final section of the seminar, Kennedy will reflect further on the ‘locations’ of memory, drawing on her recent visit to the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum and a recent Australian novel, Jade Lily, which takes a multidirectional approach to Holocaust refugee memory in Shanghai. Significant in these acts of remembrance located in part in Shanghai is the emergence of a much-less explored narrative of Holocaust memory – the story of hospitality in extreme conditions – which is a compelling memory in our era of refugee mobility today.

rosanne kennedy

Rosanne Kennedy is Associate Professor of Gender, Sexuality and Culture and Literature at the Australian National University. Her research interests include trauma, memory and witnessing in Australia and transnational contexts; Holocaust  studies; Stolen Generations; life-writing studies; feminist theory; cultural theory; literary theory; 19th and 20th century novel; women writers; law and literature; gender and modernity.

Start date and time
End date and time
Ravensteynzaal, Kromme Nieuwegracht 80, Utrecht University
Entrance fee
Free entrance
More information
Website Utrecht Forum for Memory Studies